Stories of Change: Sibongile Mtsabe
Sibongile Mtsabe is a ygap South Africa program alumni, and founder of agri-business Sibocali Traders.
Sibongile believes in healthy lifestyles and nutritious food to help address health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and malnutrition; some of the biggest public health problems in South Africa.
In 2011, Sibongile left the corporate world to help communities to grow and thrive sustainably. Alongside a Bachelor of Technology in Marketing and certificates in Multimedia and Project Management, Sibongile has hands-on experience in crop, poultry and fish farming.
This combination of skills, knowledge and passion for change led Sibongile to start a business where she could really make a difference. The creation of affordable, nutritious foodstuffs is the mission of her business, at the same time educating local communities about the importance of food security.
About the business
Sibocali Traders is an agribusiness that manufactures a variety of edible products, such as crisps and porridge, that are made from indigenous South African root vegetables like yam, sweet potato and cassava. The business works with rural women, where they teach them how to grow, supply them with seedlings and harvest the vegetables that the venture uses for their products.
The vision of Sibocali Traders is to play a significant role in the economic development of rural and township communities using agriculture as a means to generate income. They exist to help communities to realise their potential and implement projects to create a legacy that will feed and empower generations in Africa. Sibocali Traders has fostered a partnership with the Department of Agriculture to train farmers to produce on a commercial scale.
Sibocali Traders received a grant from ygap in after participating in the 2019 ygap South Africa program. This money allowed the purchase of manufacturing machines, a premises to operate from, and the capacity for sustainable power generation powered by waste material from the business. Sibocali Traders was also part of ygap’s Re-Accelerator program which supported venture resilience and survival through the worst of COVID-19.
Sibocali Traders was invited by the Kenyan Economic Development Department to become suppliers. Sibocali Traders supplies a number of local shops with their produce, including Mbewu (ygap 2021 alumna). They now have an ecommerce website where they sell their products online and deliver nationwide.
Sibocali Traders have been buying their root vegetables from 5 farmers, 3 of them women, since 2022. This year, they have added 5 more farmers, all women, and are looking to add 5 more in the second half of the year. They have created 5 jobs for women in the past 12 months and intend to employ 3- 5 more women and youth in 2023. Their annual revenue has grown from R10 000 to R300 000 to date.
In 2019, Sibongile was named first runner-up at the Female Entrepreneur Awards by the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Agriculture and Rural Development. In 2022 she was awarded winner of the South African Women Entrepreneurs Climate Change Awards.
Follow this link to learn more about Sibocali Traders. To learn more about ygap and the work we do, head to www.ygap.org.